Students’ Peer Relationships
The emergence of a rich and authentic understanding of students’ social competence is one of the triumphs of developmental research in the twentieth century. This research tradition began in the 1950s, with research on human attachment (Ainsworth, 1989; Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991; Bowlby, 1969), preschool play (Parten, 1932), and classroom climate (Barclay, 1992). It continued in the 1960s and 1970s with examinations of the behavioral underpinnings of aggression and prosocial behavior and explanations of the mechanisms of social reinforcement and modeling (Bandura, 1977). In the 1980s and 1990s, developmental researchers meticulously examined the phenomena of peer acceptance, peer rejection, peer neglect, social networks, and friendships (Asher & Coie, 1990; Asher, Parker, & Walker, 1996; Dodge, 1983). In the last decade, careful attention has been paid to peer intimidation and bullying (Espelage & Swearer, 2003; Olweus, 1991). Successful interventions to strengthen playground environments will be recess routines and practices that are congruent with these empirical descriptions of students’ developing social competence (Pellegrini & Blatchford, 2000). Otherwise, as has been so aptly stated by Dwyer and Osher (2000), some of students’ very difficult playground behaviors could be adaptive responses to the unreasonable situations that they have been placed in.